Tuesday, October 7, 2008

How policy affects the lives of transgendered individuals

Organizations try to protect transgender individuals by creating non-discrimination laws and policy which state that no one should not be treated unfairly or harassed because they are transgender. Most organizations have anti-discrimination policy; however only few specifically include transgender individuals. When they are included, policies follow a similar composition:You are considered transgender if:o You want to live as a member of your preferred gendero You are in the process of changing over to your preferred gendero You live as a member of your preferred gendero You have lived as a member of your preferred gender in the past oro You are intersexual and live as a member of your preferred gendero You do not need to be taking hormones, nor be planning or have had sex reassignment surgery.Anti-discrimination policy applies to all social locations at all times; however, the onus is on the victim to make a complaint and report it to the authorities. If their complaint is valid, legal authorities will investigate your compliant. A private settlement will try to be reached and if that is not possible, your case will go to tribunal court. On paper, this looks like an objective policy that could protect and shelter transgender individuals from prejudice, discrimination and inequity. However, when we de-construct such policy we see various discrepancies begin to emerge.Terminology such as, “preferred gender” and “valid complaint” are ambiguous and can be interpreted in many different ways. Furthermore, the onus is on the victim to make the complaint, which further accentuates the vulnerability of the transgender individual and draws attention to the superiority and dominance of law enforcement officers. Furthermore, settling the dispute through a private settlement highlights the taboo nature of the transgender experience.When we consider anti-discrimination policy within institutions like jails and prisons, the transgendered inmate is faced with further barriers towards equality. Although specific institutions may have policies in place to protect the well being of the transgender individual, many staff do not follow the ideology that the policy sets out. Staff may not approve of how the transgender individual has chosen to live their life and because they are in a powerful position, they very well may support and be part of the ill treatment of the powerless transgender inmate. For example, instances have occurred where staff have been reported physically, sexually, verbally and emotionally abusing transgender inmates. All too often, transgender inmates have to remain silent if only to keep on good behavior to hopefully be granted early parole.It’s evident that the very policies and procedures being created to help the transgender population are far from perfect, filled with oppressive undertones and are not always adhered to or applied equally.For more information on transgender law and policies, including anti-discrimination laws please visit: http://www.transgenderlaw.org/resources/index.htm

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